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  • alexellenward

journals from the south west

Updated: May 26, 2022

After 3 weeks on the dairy farm, isolated from a social life involving friends as well as having no more than one bar of 4G at any time, I felt a pull to finish 1 week early and take myself on a little solo trip to connect to my truth and reflect on what I'd learnt from all this change while Ben did the final week at the farm.

I acted on this pull and had a week of following my nose. Here are a few of the things I got up to and my little journal account of it all.

Mindful Earth Farm

On the first afternoon, I arrived at the commune I’d heard so many wild stories of, yet couldn’t find much solid information about online. The mystery of it drew me in. The talk of permaculture and living a more communal based life where every one plays their part - as consciously cognitive cogs in the machine rather than ones that have been rusted overtime with repetitive use.

I met a few long-haired chillers in the common space, where it felt very much like the communal living set-up of Mango Campground, where I lived for 2 months in Broome. After meeting a few of the guys sitting on the sofas that looked as if they had been rescued from a kerbside collection fate, one guy got up and started filming around the place with a big video camera, complete with fluffy mic and all. He was donning tight silver leggings and rainbow socks pulled up high. A French guy called Noe offered me a Coopers which I accepted, feeling myself ease into the room full of strangers.

Three people congregated on stage and begin firing up a couple of amps, breaking into a melodical jam, choc-a-bloc full of bass and groovy riffs. The drummer had only sat in front of a drum kit for the first time a month and a half ago, we soon learnt. He had dropped a stick mid-song before chalking it up to the fact that he was still a newbie. The way that they all locked in with each other didn’t reflect it all. The guitarist, I learnt through conversation snippets, had lived at the farm on and off for a couple of months and was wearing all black, including a beanie pulled over his long blonde locks and an oversized ‘Funkadelic’ t-shirt, that hung off his skinny frame, curving to support the weight of the guitar. The bassist looked familiar from adventures up north in Broome. He wore a pleated skirt, thrifted-looking suit jacket, his curly mop half turned to us and half to the other band members.

French and British accents carried across the airwaves of the small gathered crowd. A couple to my right were dragging on joints, both in beanies and a guy gently stoking the fire in front of me. A ‘VEG ONLY KITCHEN’ sign hung in the corner between washing up and couch areas. Sarongs lined the ceiling; colourful rugs and cushions, the floor. As the sound projected outwards, more of the community began trickling in. The sun was sending streamers of pinky orange across the fading blue sky.

I ventured outside after a while into the dark, my cheeks warm from the fire and alcohol. A bright crescent moon was there to greet me, radiant between two gums. I heard a meow and reached out to pet the resident cat, ’Stripy’, on the logs around the fire. Oh, how wonderful it is to be engulfed by the natural world once more! To stare at the stars and feel a nip in the air!


I woke to the rising sun outside my van window. I wandered into the giant bamboo and canvas dome past a gong and dream gallery to find lyras hung from the ceiling, crash mats and yoga equipment, the perfect set-up for workshops and movement.

Two slack lines beckoned me onwards, through which I reached via several bee hive boxes and seven friendly sheep. I stepped out of the sawdust-run composting loo, then a friendly voice and cup of coffee greeted me: “the morning’s are always wonderful here”.

The voice, which belonged to the owner of the farm, Boh, haphazardly took me through his vision for the community and the land as we wandered through the veggie garden together. They had worm farms, two small greenhouses in the works and rows of lettuce, kale and broccoli ready to be harvested. It looked to be in its beginning stages, but there were plans to get some calves and make cheese to sell back to the wider community at some stage. After enough was made for those living there already. There was talk of live music and cook ups on Friday and Saturdays of which the band was already sorted. There was a deep ethos of contribution and community throughout the conversation, which I deeply resonated with - of fun and hard-work and alternate living. It made me reflect on what I would contribute to such a space.

Margaret River Bakery

Every single person smiles as they walk out of the curtain of beads here, clutching their brown paper bagged-goodies with anticipation - often several bites into their mushroom & avocado bagel or almond croissant by the time they are 50m away, slowed down by a run-in with Emily the old babysitter or Rob, the plumber. Or perhaps waiting for a head to pop out of the blue mosaic wall with a coffee in hand, calling their name.

They’ve got all your bakery favourites and a whole bunch more that you never thought to combine, everything made onsite and from local goods. I chose the mushroom and balsamic onion tart today, warmed up of course. The thyme in it heralds, backed by the earthy mushies, buttery pastry and sweet caramelised onions. I sure left with a smile on my smug face.

Gnarabup Beach

Everything is so immensely beautiful!!! The cliffs, the colour of the ocean, the crabs that crawl across the limestone ledges and snakes that slither past me! A 15-month-old Bub just wandered across the beach on her own. Comments of ‘how independent!’, ‘how curious!’ from a lounging older mother directed at the dad in tow. ‘Every little thing interests them at that age,’ she continued. The dad agreed and wished her a fantastic day.

I saw the pair swimming before - the dad holding the Bub high above his head as he plunged his body deep into the chilly water, before flying the little girl over his head, dipping only her toes in the water.

How beautiful this world is with happy, curious, open and wondrous humans in it! The beauty before me is immense and abundant!

Gracetown Beach

I’m now parked by the orange speckled rocks of Gracetown Beach. The smell of onions, plastic wine mugs of red, swirling sea and fast moving sky. I am in it. I climb to a higher boulder and sit there journalling for a while, letting the sky do its thing. I stand up and stretch out and almost losing my balance, with the sky’s show in full swing now. I began cooking up some beans and rice for dinner before meeting three new pals who needed to borrow my gas cooker to warm up some dahl. We talked into the night of hiking and found a secret spot to park our vans together.

South Beach, Fremantle

It’s all beginning to make a bit more sense why backpackers do it. Why they live without families or comforts of where they’ve grown up. Other than the pay down here, the great weather and fun times, the international travellers I’ve met who have been here 3 years or so have food a truly incredible life among the salt, sand, bush and open-minded, inclusive, intriguing, passionate souls that choose this life. Sitting here @ South Beach, a kind of hot spot for van parking, living, sunset-watching, swimming and hanging, I feel so content! I’ve got everything I need with me, packed up into my van. I can dip into hostels - another home of the like-minded and vastly different souls who have one thing in common: travel. But they all do it so incredibly differently and there is infinite beauty to that and in respecting that.


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